•  •  Dark Mode

Your Interests & Preferences

I am a...

law firm lawyer
in-house company lawyer
litigation lawyer
law student
aspiring student

Website Look & Feel

 •  •  Dark Mode
Blog Layout

Save preferences

Newsletter Issue 122: JSA paradigms, aggressive CAs & more

Everything you need to know.

JSA shifts the paradigm

J Sagar Associates’ (JSA) founder Jyoti Sagar’s story is remarkable, less for having built a top tier law firm from scratch in 20-odd years, which others too can boast, but more for voluntarily retiring and surrendering all his equity to the rest of the partnership.

The question to ask is, how will the firm manage without him?

As far as exits go, Sagar’s has been impeccably managed, and the partnership didn’t miss any beats: it carried out, possibly India’s first, democratic executive committee election, followed up with (possibly) India’s biggest ever salaried partnership promotion round of 20.

JSA, without Jyoti, now has the chance to establish a new paradigm as a large, democratic, promoter-less law firm; the alternative option, failure, would leave not just the firm, but also the market the poorer for it.

Legally Social Mumbai on Friday, Monday in Delhi

Mumbai: Fri 26 April / Bangalore: Mon 29 April
Mumbai: Fri 26 April / Bangalore: Mon 29 April
Don’t forget: the only casual legal drinks mixer is back in Mumbai tomorrow (Friday, 26 April), and for the first time in Bangalore on Monday (29 April).

Come mingle with other social lawyers and the LI team, and pay-whatever-you-like to attend from Rs 101 to have fun and to support Legally India in its mission.

Click here to sign up for Mumbai, and here for Bangalore.

CA firms and consultancies

Quietly, quietly, the chartered accountancy (CA) and consultancy firms have been cutting themselves slices of the legal market, increasingly drawing blood as they do so.

PDS Legal – a law firm closely allied to Ernst & Young (E&Y) – poached at least 11 lawyers and up to three partners, including long-standing Delhi office head Tarun Gulati, from Economic Laws Practice (ELP).

A little earlier, PDS & Associates – the transactional law consultancy also close to E&Y – hired Kochhar & Co partner Bidan Chandran to build up its banking practice.

And in January, Indian consultancy firm BMR Advisors forged into M&A legal with Desai & Diwanji Delhi founder Amit Khansaheb under its law firm avatar BMR Legal.

ALMT’s Preeti Balwani joined Khaitan Sud & Partners, which has ramped up its ties to an ex-PwC director’s consultancy, and two E&Y alums set up a tax and disputes boutique called Reina Legal to compete with law firms on cost and service levels.

All these (and others) appear to have at least nominally considered operating within the, albeit vague, Advocates Act restrictions on legal practice, but that is no guarantee that some members of the legal profession won’t try to bite back once they start losing work and people to the Big 4 & Co.

Liberalisation lip service

Liberalisation: Stop or go?
Liberalisation: Stop or go?

Arguably foreign firms wanting to set up in India could do worse than take inspiration from the Big 4. In any case, going on the offensive could yield more results than being duped in the perennial game of carrot and stick, or good cop, bad cop: fiery resistance to foreign firm entry continued but any friendly word said they’d take as encouragement of a two-year liberalisation timeline.

Since then, most foreigners have near-given up. But if one was looking, niceties continued, perhaps significantly so.

The government wrote in its budget that “India should explore allowing foreign law firms greater access”. As such, it’s the first overt signal from the Indian government on the issue in a long time, and despite several glaring errors of fact and law, this started a bit of a debate: a senior lawyer asked for “meaningful dialogue” on liberalisation in a national newspaper, possibly belying the lack of meaning in conversations to date.

Khaitan & Co

Morgan Stanley
Morgan Stanley
A UK-based consultancy ranked Indian corporate law firms after a major client survey, showing Khaitan & Co move up the ranks, as Allen & Overy came out on top in the foreign firms’ India-practice stakes.

Indeed, outside the CA profession, Khaitan & Co landed some of the biggest recent scoops, hiring senior Nishith Desai practice heads Bijal Ajinkya and Siddharth Shah, as well as non-lawyer Morgan Stanley MD Sudhir Bassi to inject new pep into its  capital markets practice.

Numbering lawyers

It continues to fascinate how the profession’s regulator, the Bar Council of India (BCI), can’t agree on something as fundamental as how many lawyers there are in the country.

A right to information (RTI) request revealed that there were 1.3m advocates in the country in 2011, one week after the BCI chairman claimed that number had grown to an unlikely 1.7m barely two years later.

However, the RTI response also shed a fascinating light on the largest legal population densities (Delhi), the wealthiest (Maharashtra), and the fastest growing. The chairman also disclosed that 4,000 complaints against lawyers were currently pending.

Outsourcing hotspots by Olswang

Jonathan Choo, Olswang Singapore
Jonathan Choo, Olswang Singapore

Choo and Olswang partner Andrew Stott will also be in Delhi on Friday 26 April for a panel discussion.

Law firms

Movers and shakers

Vineetha MG
Vineetha MG
Narasappa Doraswamy Raja rebrands to Samvad Partners after it snares ex-AZBer Vineetha MG, and IP lawyer Rohan George in Chennai.

Clasis co-founder Shalini Agarwal went indie and lateral best-friend hire returns to best friend.

Amarchand Delhi lit partner VP Singh moved to Mumbai, while Delhi senior partner Harry Chawla joined Kochhar Mumbai. And the family had a a high-powered wedding


Pro bono

Manmohan Singh
Manmohan Singh



It’s the season to be jolly, collecting bonus cheques, new business cards, or starting to look elsewhere.



Mamta Sundara
Mamta Sundara

Start-up world galore

Alliance Legal splintered (Priyanka Roy joined IndusLaw Mumbai office, Ravi Kumar went to Amarchand, and Poovayya took Vishnu Jerome), while others were born and survived

The top deals

Q1 M&A: In terrible shape
Q1 M&A: In terrible shape
In corporate and M&A, private equity, and our round-ups.

M&A league tables: Amarchand, D&D top M&A 2012 rankings; Q1 M&A activity tanks, firms fight for scraps

Projects: Amarchand holds #1, Link Legal pushes Luthra to #3 in Projects in dry 2012

Ask us anything: The story of Legally Jobs and how to get a law job without an uncle

Barristry & benchery

Judges meet
Judges meet

Regulating advocates

The Bar Council of India (BCI) has finally announced that the fifth All India Bar Exam will happen on 14 July – 8 months after the last exam in December 2012 that was far from stress free for candidates and the regulator.

The BCI has also tendered a Rs 1 crore project to build a library-cafe in its HQ’s basement.


Rahul Cherian
Rahul Cherian

Legal Education

NLS Bangalore and other law schools averted a cash crisis after lobbying Moily, Sibal for Rs 8 cr UGC funding.

And good that is too: law has been getting ever more popular, with 15 per cent more – or 29,500 law aspirants - applying for the CLAT this year.

Nalsar Hyderabad was the first out of the blocks as this recruitment season is ending, showing off solid placement statistics, despite the lacklustre economy. Nalsar students also kicked off a national debate about sexist and invasive media coverage, and managed to get their house in order under a VC, new registrar and academic affairs head Amita Dhanda. The college was also one of the first to scrap the much-maligned two-year LLM.

GNLU students and the administration continued at loggerheads: one student filed a criminal complaint against the director after a frisking, while others have been in a legal battle with the college about arbitrary ‘goodness marks’ and detentions.

Sidharth Chauhan, who was unceremoniously sacked from his alma mater NLSIU Bangalore, ostensibly for disagreeing with the powers that be, might join Nalsar.

NLSIU registrar Nagaraj joined NLUO Cuttack as its new VC.

Mooting Premier League (MPL) 4 sponsored by Herbert Smith Freehills

MPL 4: NLS favourite to win
MPL 4: NLS favourite to win
In the Mooting Premier League (MPL) 4 sponsored by Herbert Smith Freehills, NLSIU Bangalore made heroes and history by bringing home the Philip C ‘World Cup of Mooting’ Jessup. However, despite the historic feat, NLU Delhi remains within grasping reach of NLS in the MPL, after winning the Oxford Price Media Moot and also the NLS Arbitration moot in Bangalore.

And finally…

Here are a bunch of lawyer jokes, after humourless lawyers tried to ban a humorous movie about lawyers.

And, not a joke, apparently: Law faculty head attacks vice chancellor with itching powder after missing real target

Top blogs

Revealed: Year’s best reads by readers on Legally India win Rs 45,000+ of cash prizes

Want more? Browse Legally Wired for our summary of all important legal news reported elsewhere.

Top photo by Felix O,
other photos under creative commons license, details available on linked pages.

Click to show 2 comments
at your own risk
By reading the comments you agree that they are the (often anonymous) personal views and opinions of readers, which may be biased and unreliable, and for which Legally India therefore has no liability. If you believe a comment is inappropriate, please click 'Report to LI' below the comment and we will review it as soon as practicable.